YOUNGSTOWN - There was no way that Cleveland Browns coach Pat Shurmur was going to get through a Q&A session with a group of fans without being asked the question that never goes away.
It came on the last question from the audience during the "Football Friday with the Cleveland Browns" luncheon at the Maronite Center. Wondering why the Browns used the 22nd pick in the first round of the NFL draft on quarterback Brandon Weeden, the questioner asked Shurmur if Weeden is any better than Colt McCoy.
Shurmur replied with a joke before saying that the Browns have a quarterback conversation; not a quarterback controversy.
Tribune Chronicle / Mike McLain
Cleveland Browns coach Pat Shurmur (right) meets Browns fan Gary DiPillo of Austintown. Shurmur and other team officials were at the Maronite Center for the “Football Friday with the Cleveland Browns” luncheon sponsored by the Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber.
The idea of a quarterback controversy doesn't sit well with the Browns, who should have a trademark on the term. The fact is that Weeden and McCoy will contend for the starting job in training camp. Call it what you want, but in most NFL cities it's called a controversy.
"I don't understand why it's a controversy," Shurmur said. "We added a good player one we think could be really good and he's competing with our quarterback from last year, and we didn't win enough games. What is controversial about that? We're going to watch guys compete and put the best guy out there."
There are few people in and around the NFL that think McCoy will be the starter. Weeden comes to town with first-round credentials, which usually guarantees a player a starting job. Plus, the Browns don't have the luxury of time with Weeden, who will turn 29 Oct. 14.
There's no doubt that the organization has made the determination that McCoy doesn't have the ability to lead it to a run of playoff appearances. His competitiveness and determination aren't questioned, but he comes up short in terms of arm strength and the ability to consistently put the ball into the hands of receivers.
Now factor in Weeden's showing at the rookie minicamp last weekend. It's not going out on a limb to say that his combination of arm strength and accuracy was better than any quarterback the Browns have had since the expansion season of 1999.
Shurmur has to be anxious to see more of Weeden and fellow first-round pick Trent Richardson when offseason training activities (OTAs) begin Tuesday.
"I think we were pleased with what we saw (last week)," Shurmur said. "Now they'll start working with the vets this week. We're hoping to see the same stuff we saw last week."
Shurmur's appearance along with other team officials is part of a series of events planned to spread the team message. It's clear that the losing ways of the past just two winning seasons in the last 13 years have worn down a fragile fan base.
"We believe in the regional markets," Shurmur said. "Trust me. I'm as impatient as anyone to get this thing turned and to start winning. That's the direction we're going, and we're trying to build a sustainable winner. There are certain steps you have to take. I understand at times when folks say, 'I want to win now,' because I'm right there."
Shurmur had a rough first year as a head coach. It started by having no offseason training due to the owners' lockout that didn't end until late July. Then he was saddled with a team littered with holes at virtually every area. The result was a 4-12 record.
Shurmur has the full support of team president Mike Holmgren, who's on record saying he won't hire another head coach during his time in Cleveland. Former Browns owner Art Modell once said the same thing about Bill Belichick, but that changed when the franchise moved to Baltimore in 1996.
If Shurmur has learned anything during his short time in Cleveland, it's that Browns fans are usually open to change but with a generous portion of skepticism.
"Coaches are wired with a sense of urgency," Shurmur said. "That's the way you do things. You want to teach something and see immediate results. I'm told often about how the fans feel. I get it. We're doing what we can to make it happen."